crafting a meaningful little project at a time

Friday, August 31, 2012

little playspaces, BIG IDEAS: Atmosphere of the Playspace

Welcome back to my five part playroom redesign series, {little playspaces} BIG IDEAS! You’ve spent some time dreaming and planning the perfect playspace to meet your child’s needs by Planning an IntentionalPlayspace …now it’s time to jump in and start looking at each of the five areas of intentional planning that will make your small playroom successful: atmosphere, aesthetics, workspace, materials, and maintenance. Today’s focus is on the atmosphere of the playspace.


Atmosphere is key to any successful space, and a playspace is no exception! You’ll want to give some careful consideration to how each of these three attributes will come into play in your new playroom:

·         Lighting

·         Air Quality

·         Noise


Natural light is optimal for a functional playspace, but small reclaimed spaces may not happen to be near windows. Artificial lighting for your new playspace will likely be a necessity in some capacity, but it doesn’t need to be elaborate, expensive, or fancy. Consider your playroom’s lighting needs before you dash out to purchase a trendy floor lamp or brand new hanging light fixtures. Do you already have overhead lighting? Where would a small table lamp bring a homey feel or light up a dark corner? A reading nook should have a soft light close enough to the chair or comfy spot to provide adequate reading light, but should be placed away from hanging elements, like scarves and artwork, to avoid a fire hazard. In my opinion, an art table, building center, or sensory area could be nicely lit by a shelved floor lamp like this one from Target.

Air Quality

Reclaiming an area in your home to create an intentional playspace may involve simply sectioning off a corner of your existing living area, or you may choose to completely renovate, remodel, or paint an area of your home. Regardless of where your children will play, you’ll want to think about the quality of the air in their space. Will you have open windows to circulate fresh air? Will the area be well-ventilated to safely house art activities like painting? Will you need an air purifier to remove irritants such as dust, pet dander, pollen, mold spores, and bacteria from the air in your reclaimed space? If you are looking for an air purifier, check out Air Purifier Source. They are a family-owned company committed to top notch customer service and support for their American-made air purifying products and humidifiers. For a small playspace, I like the Austin Air Baby’s Breath. This particular purifier is small, affordable, and quiet with a gentle, soothing hum…if your child will be spending lots of time in this new area, investing in a dependable air purifier would be a wise decision.


Aside from the noise your children’s voices will bring to the space, what else will you hear in this place? The sounds included in an intentional playspace should enhance the play, not distract from engaging activities. The choice to include a TV in the playspace is one which should be made after some careful consideration: you know your child, and your television viewing practices are a personal decision. We are not against TV or other technology-driven forms of entertainment at our house, but we try to keep our TV viewing time to just one room of the house…and it typically isn’t the playroom. We find that when our kids are watching TV, they don’t do much of anything else. When they are crafting, building, or playing and the TV is on in the background, it serves as a distraction. In those cases I would rather see my children devoted and truly engaged in the creative task at hand. Then again, sometimes kids do need to lie around and relax! For those times we use our personal computer to play movies in the playspace. The point is that in our house, the grown-ups are in charge of the technology, not the kids, so we try to be intentional about when and why it’s being used.  Next, think about music. If you are crafting a place for child-driven, imaginative play, such as a nature area, you may consider including a cd player with nature sounds or instrumental music. This winter I look forward to adding our Santa radio to our new playspace: it’s a small electric decoration, shaped like an old fashioned television set, with a looping scene and repeating wordless tune. The littles like to listen to the tune as they work and play, and the soft light and scrolling scene provide gentle, peaceful movement without being distracting. I also like the musical nightlights that are popular right now, like this constellation-making turtle.

Now it’s time to *be intentional* and think through the atmospheric aspects of your new playroom: print off this free printable planning sheet, close your eyes, envision yourself in the space, and think about the lighting, air quality, and noises you’d like to create in the playroom…now write about your ideas, think through your needs, and make a plan! Tune in tomorrow to start thinking about the aesthetics of your new playspace!

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